Engag.io launches to the public today. Imagine a Gmail inbox (in a good way), but for all your online conversations. That's Engag.io. But on top of that simple idea, Engag.io has features no one else provides for finding, following and expanding online conversations. If you're active in lots of places on the social Web, Engag.io will keep you sane.

A Gmail inbox for the whole social Web is what Fred Wilson, one of founder William Mougayar's first backers, asked him to build. It was a basic need conceived in conversation on AVC, Wilson's indispensable site. Now that Engag.io is built, Mougayar has closed a $540,000 seed round. The wired world feels such a need for the perfect unified inbox, and Engag.io has people coming out of the woodwork to bring it into being.

Why Is Engag.io the One?

Engag.io is hardly the only unified inbox idea out there. I've been using it since the private alpha in December, though, and it's the only such product which has lasted this long as part of my workflow.

In fact, Engag.io is so helpful, it has given me a more realistic picture of my online activity than the one I had in my head. I don't really talk to as many people as I thought. I talk to some people way more than the rest. I don't really need a complex solution to make my online life more manageable. I just need a simple convenience, and Engag.io is certainly that.

It's organized to feel like it does less than other social media management tools, and that's a good thing. The very reason we want such a unified place is to reduce the overwhelming number of options. It connects to Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Hacker News, Tumblr, Foursquare and LinkedIn, but the home location is just an inbox with a number.

Conversations

Each conversation thread gets its own row, like an email thread in Gmail. The participants are listed on the left. The date and time is on the right. In the middle is just enough of an excerpt to know what it's about, and there's a favicon to indicate where it happened, be it Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments on a blog.

You can reply to messages in the correct channels from within Engag.io. That used to come with a "sent from Engag.io" message, but Mougayar took that out in response to feedback.

Engag.io also has a search box, which you can filter by comments or by contacts. If you search contacts, you can find the person you're looking for across all the networks. If you search comments, you find all the conversation threads about a topic, as well as a box showing you the people with whom you've talked about that topic most.

Contacts

Engag.io really starts to stand out when you click "My Contacts." Instead of an inscrutable list like you get in Gmail, your contact list can be sorted by several highly relevant factors. You can sort by name, of course, but also by total number of interactions, or just by "From Me" or "To Me." You can also sort by how long you've been in contact with the person. Hovering the mouse over their name or face creates a pop-up showing all the ways you've connected with the person. If they aren't on Engag.io, you can invite them.

There's an advantage to inviting someone to Engag.io, too. Once you've established your connection within Engag.io, you reveal your email addresses to each other, so you can be more formally introduced.

Discovery

Think of the problem that solves. There's someone with whom you interact constantly, but only in one place. Perhaps it's Twitter, or it's the ReadWriteWeb comments section, but that's it. Those conversations will appear in Engag.io, and it gives you the chance to really introduce yourself (while inviting them to an incredibly useful service at the same time).

Another way to see this in action on Engag.io is by clicking "Sites." That shows the websites where you comment most, as well as the top sites for your top contacts. So now you can discover new websites and communities because your favorite contacts are active there.

Engag.io Scratches the Internet's Itch

Engag.io was conceived within the comments of a website, which is a perfect illustration of the value of tracking those conversations the way Engag.io does. Mougayar was a power commenter on Fred Wilson's blog. Wilson is renowned for his hatred of inbox overload, and it's a problem familiar to all of us. Out of those conversations sprang this idea, and now it has substantial support of investors and early users alike.

Fred Wilson was the first investor, and the rest of the funding conversation took place on AngelList. Mougayar wanted to be sure I mentioned that, because he believes the warm community support there made this possible. The $540,000 round announced today is led by Rho Canada, along with Fred Wilson, Real Ventures, Bullpen Capital, Michael Yavonditte and Extreme Venture Partners.

But it's not just funders who are excited about Engag.io. It's users as well. Mougayar says they're enthusiastically suggesting changes and features to fine-tune this necessary tool. Now you can try it at Engag.io. It will be Your Precious.

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